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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Bad economy for a large defense budget

    President Obama recently proposed a 4.9 percent decrease in the U.S. Defense budget for 2013 and critics didn’t hesitate to denounce the proposal as a major threat to our national security. However, given our dismal economy, the benefits of defense budget cuts far outweigh the disadvantages.

    Prudent decreases in the defense budget will hardly endanger our security. In 2011, U.S. defense spending accounted for 41 percent of the entire world’s defense expenditures. China, by comparison, made up a mere 8.2 percent, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Even if we chose to slash the defense budget to a quarter of its current size, we would still have the most well-funded military in the world.

    Reducing the bloated budget would provide us with billions of dollars to spend toward deprived domestic programs, such as education. In 2011, the federal government spent 20 percent of its revenues on defense programs, but only 2 percent on education, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The low education funding only helped test scores fall further behind, student loan debt soar and college tuition prices rise.

    It is true that the defense industry creates jobs, but evidence shows that allocating funds toward other sectors like education can create far more. According to a 2011 study conducted by the University of Massachusetts’ Political Economy Research Institute, spending $1 billion on educational services would create an average of 26,700 jobs, whereas the same amount spent on defense creates only 11,200 jobs.

    If Obama wins the 2012 election, his suggested 4.9 percent decrease in defense spending may not be enough. Over time, his current proposal would cause the defense budget to slowly increase to previous levels. If Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wins the election, on the other hand, the defense budget would increase nearly $100 billion in 2013 and add $2.1 trillion in additional spending over the next decade, according to an analysis done for CNN Money by the Center for a New American Security. Romney proposes to link the Pentagon’s defense budget to the country’s Gross Domestic Product, which means if the economy falls, defense spending does too.

    Hopefully voters will take the candidates’ proposed defense budgets into consideration when choosing the next American president. Either way, Congress needs to devise a sensible plan that reduces budget spending, provides extra funds and allocates them to vital services that are currently lacking in financial support.

    — Michael Carolin is a journalism and creative writing junior. He can be reached at or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .

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